Council backs ‘pre-consultation’ on school plans

ARGYLL and Bute Council has agreed a programme of ‘pre-consultation’ meetings with ten communities – including Port Bannatyne on Bute - which could be affected by its school estate review.

Informal ‘facilitated workshops’ will be held between March 28 and April 4 to consider the impact on each community of the potential closure of its local school.

The results of those workshops will be used to consider whether the council should take the next step to formalconsultation, as required by law, or scrap the proposals.

Councillors voted 19-15 in favour of the ‘pre-consultation’ plan, defeating an amendment by Bute SNP councillor Isobel Strong which suggested the council should wait until the publication, later this month, of new Scottish Government guidance on school closure consultations.

Parent groups, teachers, community groups, elected members and the Argyll Rural Schools Networks will be invited to take part in the discussion meetings.

The reports from the informal workshops are due to be published on April 12, and the decision on whether to move on to statutory consultation or withdraw the proposals will be made at a special council meeting on April 19.

The authority’s education spokesperson, Cllr Ellen Morton, said: “I want to highlight the positive involvement of the Argyll Rural Schools Network in discussions with the council that has helped us develop our new approach. I also want to thank all of the parents, staff and others with whom I met on my school visits for the courtesy I received from every quarter.

“The agreed approach is designed to ensure that all viable alternatives are identified and assessed to better inform the council on the decisions it will face.”

* More on this story in the next issue of The Buteman – on sale on Thursday, March 10.